Gornal Athletic v Halesowen Town Colts FC
A glorious morning and a great looking pitch welcomed both sides to Garden Walk on Saturday for the final group game of the JPL Group 17 qualification.
The home team were secure in their passage through to the next stages, the away side looking to confirm their spot.
A keenly and finely balanced contest unfolded. Both sides possess speed and strength and are able to move the football nicely. Gornal will feel they needed to have taken their first half opportunities. Halesowen keeper Samuel was in inspired form as he somehow tipped over a Harrison Jones flick that was destined for the top corner, Samuel also tipped onto the crossbar a Jim Westwood 30 yard cracker which bounced back down either over, on or short of the goal line, we shall never know, oh for a Russian linesman! Josh Brooks unfortunately pushed a one on one wide of the far post after Dan Piper intercepted Halesowen in their attempts to play out in their third.
Halesowen showed nice touches and played ineat one to passes which got through Gornal's lines. There front pairing were strong and a real handful, both supported by advancing wing backs supplying crosses. However, it was 0-0after the first two quarters.
The third quarter was very close, with no clear opportunities for either side, the tempo of the match remained very quick and both sets of players were committed, both attempting to break the other side down. 0-0. Into the fourth quarter and Halesowen began to enjoy good possession and test the back line with crosses and tidy play outside the box, which was well marshalled.
The goal came with ten minutes remaining. It contained an element of debate as a drop ball was awarded to Halesowen as a Gornal player was injured. It was awarded around 10 metres inside the Gornal half, correctly it was uncontested under the new law. With Gornal retreating more than they needed to, Halesowen played into their forward to pushed the ball to the wide player who crosssed for the forward to meet the header and power into the net. 1-0. The Gornal players felt aggrieved but must learn they didn't react quick enough to Halesowen play, that no rule had been broken and despite previous drop balls being played back to either side earlier in the match, no side had to play the ball back. A lesson for the players.
Gornal came back and there were a few goal mouth scrambles but ultimately Gornal couldn't get an equaliser. Gornal shall feel they should have scored their opportunities early in the match, the fact in remained goal less for so long was not a reflection on either sides who both showed great endevour and ability. A great advert for the league.
Both sides now move forward as the top three in the group couldn't be seperated on points so the goals scored method is brought into play. We look forward to meeting James and his Halesowen boys in the JPL ONE league matches.